If there were any doubt among us, NFL football is far from a glamorous sport…
It is about a small window of opportunity… and that window is framed by heavy lifting, a lot of running up hills with weights attached, severe diet control, and incredible confrontation with heat and physical abuse… and that's just the entry point of qualification for training camp.
And if you survive all that noise, your best bet of a career is 5 years… that will get you an NFL pension, which is a meaningful reward for a youthful investment of your sweat and pain into a game we armchairs love to watch.
Hopefully you will still be able to walk and talk coherently at the age of 50…
And the pressure to survive in the NFL is huge. What other sport can you cite where it is routine for players to vomit before a game?
This is all a prelude to the saga of Danny Watkins, the former #1 pick from Baylor of Andy Reid's Eagles just a few years ago…
Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reports:
"Last season went so poorly for Danny Watkins that four months later, he still doesn't want to reflect about what went wrong. The third-year pro is trying to pretend the forgettable year never happened. He won't even touch it with an extra-long firefighter ladder. "
Watkins didn't want to even mention the difficult season as the Eagles began practicing this week at the NovaCare Complex. The moment last year was discussed, Watkins quickly became at a loss for words.
"I'm not … well … I don't want to," Watkins stammered.
There's good reason for his reluctance. The 2011 first-round pick started just six games. He was inactive for five, including the final two of the season when he was a healthy scratch. There is also some doubt about whether he was actually injured to the point where he couldn't play in three others.
From start to finish, it was a disappointing year for the player and team that drafted him so highly. Watkins was the 23rd-overall pick in 2011.
Still, there remains an opportunity for redemption. The Eagles have a new coaching staff in place, including a new offensive line coach in Jeff Stoutland. He replaced Howard Mudd this offseason, and the refreshed and recently-married Watkins doesn't seem too disappointed by the change.
"Howard had a very untraditional pass set and coach Stout has a more traditional pass set. That is first and foremost," Watkins said. "[Stoutland and I have] spent a lot of time together. He's a coach you can relate to and you kind of look up to him and work hard for him and do the best you can for him."
Watkins and Mudd never seemed to mesh. The aggressive and demonstrative Mudd sent his young (in football years) lineman into a shell. Watkins, 28, never came out of that shell to play in 2012.
Without Howard Mudd in the picture, this is Danny Watkins' last chance to shine.
If Watkins wants a bona fide shot at an NFL pension, he's got to impress a whole new coaching staff that he's the real deal.
Uneven rookie season… disastrous sophomore year… Watkins is on the verge of being cut.
Hopefully for the beleagured Watkins, the change in coaching staff will give him a fresh start. I always believed in Watkins' native ability. He has what it takes mentally and physically to be a great guard in the NFL. Certainly Andy Reid saw that in him. And Reid knows offensive linemen.
Watkins was disheartened and disinterested at the end of last season. Getting bumped down to the inactive roster will do that to a guy.
Howard Mudd gave up on Danny Watkins. Now it's Jeff Stoutland's turn to bring out the best in Watkins.
It's just another curious wrinkle in the fabric of a ground-breaking season about to unfold in Philadelphia football history.